Greetings from Haltwhistle


Hi, I’m Rob. I am very excited to be here in Haltwhistle, Northumberland, England. I have been in England for 10 days and I have already seen so many awesome things. The picture I have attached is the best that I have taken so far; Hadrian’s wall at sunset. It was a lovely weekend but things have cooled down now, good for the hard work that we are up to in the North Field of Vindolanda.

We all made great steps forward today. The Director of Excavations, Andrew Birley, and Beth had us examine a large quantity of anaerobically preserved material fresh out of the ground from one of the early timber forts. Needless to say we got our hands dirty. I personally unearthed an acorn and some bone while others found many bones, the sherd of a pot rim, and a small strip of leather, among other artifacts, none ground breaking, but we were all extremely excited to get that opportunity.

The trench that our supervisors have been busily opening in the North Field already looks promising but there will be much more to come on that once we all start digging. For now I can say that Vindolanda, the site, its museum, and the efforts of the Vindolanda Trust and the many volunteers here are astonishing and inspiring. The people in Northern England are kind and welcoming, and their cuisine is right up my ally (more to come on that too). The landscape here is pastoral and rugged. Rolling hills dotted with sheep are topped by rocky out crops and fall to sheer cliffs. Among it all stands Roman remains, what we are here for, and to see all this together gives you the feeling that you really are in Roman frontier country.

Looking forward to the days and weeks to come,

Rob Woodcock

10 thoughts on “Greetings from Haltwhistle

  1. Enjoy your time in England –thinking of you –Dan is better every day,so we are hopeful that the radiation and target agent pills are working ,going for check up this afternoon.Very hot right now in old London town ,pool almost ready to jump in .Beautiful photo of countryside–take lots of pictures and stay well and have fun,Cheers,

  2. How do you like getting down and dirty so to speak? Nothing quite like it in my opinion. Keep on enjoying that fried food and delicious ale (have a couple for me). Best wishes.

    1. Yea I liked it a lot. My feet are sore from today’s hike but my hands are woefully clean. Presentation tomorrow, wish me luck!

  3. Hello Rob – stunning photo, definitely an A+, we’ll have to see how we can give it wider distribution. Look forward to breaking news once you all get stuck into the North Field. I assume all the bones are animal? Any ideas about type yet?

    1. Yes, they all seem to be animal, even to the untrained eye. In my opinion perhaps they had been cooked because they were easily broke. The material that we were breaking apart by hand is the thick layers of organic matter used as carpeting by the fort’s inhabitants. They were found in a wattle and daub structure. They tell us that breaking it apart is a subtle and obvious task. You don’t need to ‘mince’ the material, but just apply some pressure to a clump and if there are any irregularities in it, they will surely pop out. I am very hopeful that I can give it a try again soon. Thanks for the A+!

  4. Love the picture and can’t wait to see more. Please let me use them in my paintings when you return. Now the work begins and hope that you find amazing artifacts, enjoy your day and weeks ahead.

  5. Great post, Rob! How exciting to be handling freshly uncovered artifacts, and to be working with Andrew Birley as well as Beth and Alex. That’s a beautiful photo as well.

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